From voodoo to booze, office gift-giving never a snooze

Posted: Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Some may debate whether it's better to give or to receive when it comes to holiday gifts among colleagues. It's not unusual for bosses and employees to exchange wine, chocolate and gift cards at the end of the year, but what about a voodoo doll?

All of us have received a questionable gift that begs the question: "Is this person kidding or do they just hate me?"

When asked to identify some of the more unusual holiday gifts received at the office, several CareerBuilder.com respondents offered the following examples:

• Gift certificate to a strip club

• A voodoo doll

• Underwear

• 'What Would Jesus Do?' bracelet

• Used makeup

• Bottle of vodka for a recovering alcoholic

• Package of over-the-counter medicines

• Tin of burnt cookies

• Used cookbook with food stains on it

Making a list

While 56 percent of managers plan to give holiday gifts to their staffs, only 9 percent said they feel obligated to do so. Cash ranked highest on office shopping lists for managers. Fifty-two percent of managers plan to give money or gift cards to their staff members. Twenty-three percent will fuel holiday indulgences with gifts of candy while 21 percent will buy their staffs holiday ornaments or decorations. Other popular gifts are books (15 percent), wine/alcohol (13 percent), food baskets (12 percent) and gag gifts (11 percent).

Twenty-nine percent of workers will reciprocate the gesture, with 5 percent feeling obligated to do so. Gift cards, gift certificates or money topped the shopping lists for 38 percent of employees buying for their bosses. Food baskets and wine/alcohol tied for second most popular at 13 percent. Business card holders, paperweights or other office items came in third at 12 percent.

Gift-giving tips

If you plan to give presents at the office, our CareerBuilder experts offer the following advice:

1. Ask around: Companies have different policies when it comes to gift-giving at the office. Some may restrict dollar value amounts or outright prohibit gifts. Check with HR and ask other employees how gift-giving was handled in the office in previous years.

2. Err on the conservative: The best of intentions can turn into the worst of consequences if the recipient of the gift feels it is offensive or inappropriate. The safest bets are to stay with classic items such as portfolios, books, picture frames and food baskets. Remember to stay away from religious themes.

3. Consider charities: Thirty-eight percent of workers said their office gets involved in charitable activities including Toys for Tots, adopt a family or adopt a classroom and group volunteering. Instead of buying a present for your boss or co-worker, make a charitable donation in his/her name for those in need.

4. Quality counts: Closeouts and clearance sales can be tempting, but beware of dead batteries, cheap construction and spoiled goods. If you want to make a lasting impression, make sure it's a positive one.



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